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Doctrine of Pro Reo

-Whenever a penal law is to be construed or applied and the law admits of two
interpretations one lenient to the offender and one strict to the offender that
interpretation which is lenient or favorable to the offender will be adopted.
-This is in consonance with the fundamental rule that all doubts shall be construed in
favor of the accused and consistent with presumption of innocence of the accused. This
is peculiar only to criminal law.

Question & Answer

One boy was accused of parricide and was found guilty. This is punished by
reclusion perpetua to death. Assuming you were the judge, would you give the accused
the benefit of the Indeterminate Sentence Law (ISLAW)? The ISLAW does not apply when
the penalty imposed is life imprisonment of death. Would you consider the penalty
imposable or the penalty imposed, taking into consideration the mitigating circumstance
of minority?
If you will answer "no", then you go against the Doctrine of Pro Reo because you
can interpret the ISLAW in a more lenient manner. Taking into account the doctrine, we
interpret the ISLAW to mean that the penalty imposable and not the penalty prescribed
by law, since it is more favorable for the accused to interpret the law.

Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege

There is no crime when there is no law punishing the same. This is true to civil law
countries, but not to common law countries.
Because of this maxim, there is no common law crime in the Philippines. No matter
how wrongful, evil or bad the act is, if there is no law defining the act, the same is not
considered a crime.

Common law crimes are wrongful acts which the community/society condemns as
contemptible, even though there is no law declaring the act criminal.
Not any law punishing an act or omission may be valid as a criminal law. If the law
punishing an act is ambiguous, it is null and void.

Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea

The act cannot be criminal where the mind is not criminal. This is true to a felony
characterized by dolo, but not a felony resulting from culpa. This maxim is not an
absolute one because it is not applied to culpable felonies, or those that result from

Utilitarian Theory or Protective Theory

-The primary purpose of the punishment under criminal law is the protection of society
from actual and potential wrongdoers.
-The courts, therefore, in exacting retribution for the wronged society, should direct the
punishment to potential or actual wrongdoers, since criminal law is directed against acts
and omissions which the society does not approve. Consistent with this theory, the mala
prohibita principle which punishes an offense regardless of malice or criminal intent,
should not be utilized to apply the full harshness of the special law.
In Magno v CA, decided on June 26, 1992, the Supreme Court acquitted Magno of
violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 when he acted without malice. The wrongdoer is not
Magno but the lessor who deposited the checks. He should have returned the checks to
Magno when he pulled out the equipment. To convict the accused would defeat the noble
objective of the law and the law would be tainted with materialism and opportunism.


Code of Kalantiao
If you will be asked about the development of criminal law in the Philippines, do
not start with the Revised Penal Code. Under the Code of Kalantiao, there were penal
provisions. Under this code, if a man would have a relation with a married woman, she is
penalized. Adultery is a crime during those days. Even offending religious things, such as
gods, are penalized. The Code of Kalantiao has certain penal provisions. The Filipinos
have their own set of penology also.

Spanish Codigo Penal

When the Spanish Colonizers came, the Spanish Codigo Penal was made applicable
and extended to the Philippines by Royal Decree of 1870. This was made effective in the
Philippines in July 14, 1876.

Who is Rafael Del Pan?

He drafted a correctional code which was after the Spanish Codigo Penal was
extended to the Philippines. But that correctional code was never enacted into law.
Instead, a committee was organized headed by then Anacleto Diaz. This committee was
the one who drafted the present Revised Penal Code.

The present Revised Penal Code

When a committee to draft the Revised Penal Code was formed, one of the
reference that they took hold of was the correctional code of Del Pan. In fact, many
provisions of the Revised Penal Code were no longer from the Spanish Penal Code; they
were lifted from the correctional code of Del Pan. So it was him who formulated or
paraphrased this provision making it simpler and more understandable to Filipinos
because at that time, there were only a handful who understood Spanish.

Code of Crimes by Guevarra

During the time of President Manuel Roxas, a code commission was tasked to draft
a penal code that will be more in keeping with the custom, traditions, traits as well as
beliefs of the Filipinos. During that time, the code committee drafted the so-called Code
of Crimes. This too, slept in Congress. It was never enacted into law. Among those who
participated in drafting the Code of Crimes was Judge Guellermo Guevarra.
Since that Code of Crimes was never enacted as law, he enacted his own code of crimes.
But it was the Code of Crimes that that was presented in the Batasan as Cabinet Bill no.
2. Because the code of crimes prepared by Guevarra was more of a moral code than a
penal code, there were several oppositions against the code.

Proposed Penal Code of the Philippines

Through Assemblyman Estelito Mendoza, the UP Law Center formed a committee
which drafted the Penal Code of the Philippines. This Penal Code of the Philippines was
substituted as Cabinet Bill no. 2 and this has been discussed in the floor of the Batasang
Pambansa. So the Code of Crimes now in Congress was not the Code of Crimes during
the time of President Roxas. This is a different one. Cabinet Bill No. 2 is the Penal Code of
the Philippines drafted by a code committee chosen by the UP Law Center, one of them
was Professor Ortega. There were seven members of the code committee. It would have
been enacted into law it not for the dissolution of the Batasang Pambansa dissolved. The
Congress was planning to revive it so that it can b enacted into law.

Special Laws
During Martial Law, there are many Presidential Decrees issued aside from the
special laws passed by the Philippine Legislature Commission. eAll these special laws,
which are penal in character, are part of our Penal Code.


1. Classical or Juristic Philosophy
2. Positivist or Realistic Philosophy
3. Ecletic or Mixed Philosophy

Classical or Juristic Philosophy

-Best remembered by the maxim An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. [Note: If you
want to impress the examiner, use the latin version Oculo pro oculo, dente pro dente.]
-The purpose of penalty is retribution.
-The offender is made to suffer for the wrong he has done. There is scant regard for the
human element of the crime. The law does not look into why the offender committed the
-Capital punishment is a product of this kind of this school of thought. Man is regarded as
a moral creature who understands right from wrong. So that when he commits a wrong,
he must be prepared to accept the punishment therefore.

Positivist or Realistic Philosophy

-The purpose of penalty is reformation.

-There is great respect for the human element because the offender is regarded as
socially sick who needs treatment, not punishment. Cages are like asylums, jails like
hospitals. They are there to segregate the offenders from the good members of society.

-From this philosophy came the jury system, where the penalty is imposed on a case to
case basis after examination of the offender by a panel of social scientists which do not
include lawyers as the panel would not want the law to influence their consideration.

-Crimes are regarded as social phenomena which constrain a person to do wrong

although not of his own volition. A tendency towards crime is the product of ones
environment. There is no such thing as a natural born killer. This philosophy is criticized
as being too lenient.

Eclectic or Mixed Philosophy

-This combines both positivist and classical thinking. Crimes that are economic and social
and nature should be dealt with in a positivist manner; thus, the law is more
compassionate. Heinous crimes should be dealt with in a classical manner; thus, capital
-Since the Revised Penal Code was adopted from the Spanish Codigo Penal, which in turn
was copied from the French Code of 1810 which is classical in character, it is said that
our Code is also classical. This is no longer true because with the American occupation of
the Philippines, many provisions of common law have been engrafted into our penal
laws. The Revised Penal Code today follows the mixed or eclectic philosophy.

For example, intoxication of the offender is considered to mitigate his criminal

liability, unless it is intentional or habitual; the age of the offender is considered; and the
woman who killed her child to conceal her dishonor has in her favor a mitigating


Violations of the Revised Penal Code are referred to as malum in se, which
literally means, that the act is inherently evil or bad or per se wrongful. On the other
hand, violations of special laws are generally referred to as malum prohibitum.
Note, however, that not all violations of special laws are mala prohibita. While
intentional felonies are always mala in se, it does not follow that prohibited acts done in
violation of special laws are always mala prohibita. Even if the crime is punished under a
special law, if the act punished is one which is inherently wrong, the same is malum in
se, and, therefore, good faith and the lack of criminal intent is a valid defense; unless it
is the product of criminal negligence or culpa. Likewise when the special laws requires
that the punished act be committed knowingly and willfully, criminal intent is required to
be proved before criminal liability may arise. When the act penalized is not inherently
wrong, it is wrong only because a law punishes the same.
For example, Presidential Decree No. 532 punishes piracy in Philippine waters and
the special law punishing brigandage in the highways. These acts are inherently wrong
and although they are punished under special law, the acts themselves are mala in se;
thus, good faith or lack of criminal intent is a defense.

Distinction between crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code and crimes
punished under special laws
1. As to moral trait of the offender
In crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code, the moral trait of the offender is
considered. This is why liability would only arise when there is dolo or culpa in the
commission of the punishable act.
In crimes punished under special laws, the moral trait of the offender is not
considered; it is enough that the prohibited act was voluntarily done.

2. As to use of good faith as defense

In crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code, good faith or lack of criminal
intent is a valid defense; unless the crime is the result of culpa
In crimes punished under special laws, good faith is not a defense

3. As to degree of accomplishment of the crime

In crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code, the degree of accomplishment
of the crime is taken into account in punishing the offender; thus, there are attempted,
frustrated, and consummated stages in the commission of the crime. In crimes punished
under special laws, the act gives rise to a crime only when it is consummated; there are
no attempted or frustrated stages, unless the special law expressly penalize the mere
attempt or frustration of the crime.

4. As to mitigating and aggravating circumstances

In crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code, mitigating and aggravating
circumstances are taken into account in imposing the penalty since the moral trait of the
offender is considered.
In crimes punished under special laws, mitigating and aggravating circumstances
are not taken into account in imposing the penalty.

5. As to degree of participation
In crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code, when there is more than one
offender, the degree of participation of each in the commission of the crime is taken into
account in imposing the penalty; thus, offenders are classified as principal, accomplice
and accessory.
In crimes punished under special laws, the degree of participation of the offenders
is not considered. All who perpetrated the prohibited act are penalized to the same
extent. There is no principal or accomplice or accessory to consider.

Questions & Answers

1. Three hijackers accosted the pilot of an airplane. They compelled the pilot to change
destination, but before the same could be accomplished, the military was alerted. What
was the crime committed?
Grave coercion. There is no such thing as attempted hijacking. Under special laws,
the penalty is not imposed unless the act is consummated. Crimes committed against
the provisions of a special law are penalized only when the pernicious effects, which such
law seeks to prevent, arise.

2. A mayor awarded a concession to his daughter. She was also the highest bidder. The
award was even endorsed by the municipal council as the most advantageous to the
municipality. The losing bidder challenged the validity of the contract, but the trial court
sustained its validity. The case goes to the Sandiganbayan and the mayor gets convicted
for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti- Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). He appeals
alleging his defenses raised in the Sandiganbayan that he did not profit from the
transaction, that the contract was advantageous to the municipality, and that he did not
act with intent to gain.
Rule.: Judgment affirmed. The contention of the mayor that he did not profit anything
from the transaction, that the contract was advantageous to the municipality, and that
he did not act with intent to gain, is not a defense. The crime involved is malum
In the case of People v. Sunico, an election registrar was prosecuted for having
failed to include in the voters register the name of a certain voter. There is a provision in
the election law which proscribes any person from preventing or disenfranchising a voter
from casting his vote. In trial, the election registrar raised as good faith as a defense. The
trial court convicted him saying that good faith is not a defense in violation of special
laws. On appeal, it was held by he Supreme Court that disenfranchising a voter from
casting his vote is not wrong because there is a provision of law declaring it as a crime,
but because with or without a law, that act is wrong. In other words, it is malum in se.
Consequently, good faith is a defense. Since the prosecution failed to prove that the
accused acted with malice, he was acquitted.

Test to determine if violation of special law is malum prohibitum or malum in

Analyze the violation: Is it wrong because there is a law prohibiting it or punishing
it as such? If you remove the law, will the act still be wrong?
If the wording of the law punishing the crime uses the word willfully, then malice
must be proven. Where malice is a factor, good faith is a defense.
In violation of special law, the act constituting the crime is a prohibited act.
Therefore culpa is not a basis of liability, unless the special law punishes an omission.
When given a problem, take note if the crime is a violation of the Revised Penal
Code or a special law.


A crime under the Revised Penal Code is referred to as a felony. Do not use this
term in reference to a violation of special law.

A crime punished under a special law is called as statutory offense.

A minor infraction of the law, such as a violation of an ordinance, is referred to as a

Whether the wrongdoing is punished under the Revised Penal Code or under a
special law, the generic word crime can be used.


The provision in Article 2 embraces two scopes of applications:
(1) Intraterritorial refers to the application of the Revised Penal Code within the
Philippine territory;

(2) Extraterritorial refers to the application of the Revised Penal Code outside the
Philippine territory.

Intraterritorial application
In the intraterritorial application of the Revised Penal Code, Article 2 makes it clear
that it does not refer only to Philippine archipelago but it also includes the atmosphere,
interior waters and maritime zone. So whenever you use the word territory, do not limit
this to land area only.
As far as jurisdiction or application of the Revised Penal Code over crimes
committed on maritime zones or interior waters, the Archipelagic Rule shall be observed.
So the three-mile limit on our shoreline has been modified by the rule. Any crime
committed in interior waters comprising the Philippine archipelago shall be subject to our
laws although committed on board a foreign merchant vessel.

Prior to the revision, the crime would not have been prosecutable in our court. With the
revision, registration is not anymore a requirement and replaced with generally accepted
principles of international law. Piracy is considered a crime against the law of nations.
In your answer, reference should be made to the provision of paragraph c of
Section15 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The crime may be regarded as an
act of piracy as long as it is done with intent to gain.
When public officers or employees commit an offense in the exercise of their
functions, the most common subject of bar problems in Article 2 is paragraph 4: While
being public officers or employees, [they] should commit an offense in the exercise of
their functions:
As a general rule, the Revised Penal Code governs only when the crime committed
pertains to the exercise of the public officials functions, those having to do with the
discharge of their duties in a foreign country. The functions contemplated are those,
which are, under the law, to be performed by the public officer in the Foreign Service of
the Philippine government in a foreign country.

Exception: The Revised Penal Code governs if the crime was committed within the
Philippine Embassy or within the embassy grounds in a foreign country. This is because
embassy grounds are considered an extension of sovereignty.

A Philippine consulate official who is validly married here in the Philippines and
who marries again in a foreign country cannot be prosecuted here for bigamy because
this is a crime not connected with his official duties. However, if the second marriage
was celebrated within the Philippine embassy, he may be prosecuted here, since it is as
if he contracted the marriage here in the Philippines.

Question & Answer

A consul was to take a deposition in a hotel in Singapore. After the deposition, the
deponent approached the consuls daughter and requested that certain parts of the
deposition be changed in consideration for $10,000.00. The daughter persuaded the
consul and the latter agreed. Will the crime be subject to the Revised Penal Code? If so,
what crime or crimes have been committed?
Yes. Falsification.
Normally, the taking of the deposition is not the function of the consul, his
function being the promotion of trade and commerce with another country. Under the
Rules of Court, however, a consul can take depositions or letters rogatory. There is,
therefore, a definite provision of the law making it the consuls function to take
depositions. When he agreed to the falsification of the deposition, he was doing so as a
public officer in the service of the Philippine government.

Paragraph 5 of Article 2, use the phrase as defined in Title One of Book Two of
this Code.
This is a very important part of the exception, because Title I of Book 2 (crimes
against national security) does not include rebellion. So if acts of rebellion were
perpetrated by Filipinos who were in a foreign country, you cannot give territorial
application to the Revised Penal Code, because Title I of Book 2 does not include

When a Filipino who is already married in the Philippines, contracts another
marriage abroad, the crime committed is bigamy. But the Filipino can not be prosecuted
when he comes back to the Philippines, because the bigamy was committed in a foreign
country and the crime is not covered by paragraph 5 of Article 2. However, if the Filipino,
after the second marriage, returns to the Philippines and cohabits here with his second
wife, he commits the crime of concubinage for which he can be prosecuted.
The Revised Penal Code shall not apply to any other crime committed in a foreign
country which does not come under any of the exceptions and which is not a crime
against national security.


Punishable by the Revised Penal Code
The term felony is limited only to violations of the Revised Penal Code. When the
crime is punishable under a special law you do not refer to this as a felony. So whenever
you encounter the term felony, it is to be understood as referring to crimes under the
Revised Penal Code This is important because there are certain provisions in the Revised
Penal Code where the term felony is used, which means that the provision is not
extended to crimes under special laws.
A specific instance is found in Article 160 Quasi-Recidivism, which reads:
A person who shall commit a felony after having been convicted by final judgment,
before beginning to serve sentence or while serving the same, shall be punished under
the maximum period of the penalty. Note that the word "felony" is used.

Questions & Answers

1. If a prisoner who is serving sentence is found in possession of dangerous drugs, can
he be considered a quasi-recidivist?
No. The violation of Presidential Decree No. 6425 (The Dangerous Drugs Act of
1972) is not a felony. The provision of Article 160 specifically refers to a felony and
felonies are those acts and omissions punished under the Revised Penal Code.

2. Is illegal possession of bladed weapon a felony?

No. It is not under the Revised Penal Code.

An act or omission
To be considered as a felony there must be an act or omission; a mere imagination
no matter how wrong does not amount to a felony. An act refers to any kind of body
movement that produces change in the outside world. For example, if A, a passenger in a
jeepney seated in front of a lady, started putting out his tongue suggesting lewdness,
that is already an act in contemplation of criminal law. He cannot claim that there was no
crime committed. If A scratches something, this is already an act which annoys the lady
he may be accused of unjust vexation, not malicious mischief.

Dolo or culpa
However, It does not mean that if an act or omission is punished under the Revised Penal
Code, a felony is already committed. To be considered a felony, it must also be done with
dolo or culpa.
Under Article 3, there is dolo when there is deceit. This is no longer true. At the
time the Revised Penal Code was codified, the term nearest to dolo was deceit. However,
deceit means fraud, and this is not the meaning of dolo.
Dolo is deliberate intent otherwise referred to as criminal intent, and must be coupled
with freedom of action and intelligence on the part of the offender as to the act done by
The term, therefore, has three requisites on the part of the offender:
(1)Criminal intent;
(2) Freedom of action; and
(3) Intelligence.
If any of these is absent, there is no dolo. If there is no dolo, there could be no intentional

Question & Answer

What requisites must concur before a felony may be committed?
There must be (1) an act or omission; (2) punishable by the Revised Penal Code; and (3)
the act is performed or the omission incurred by means of dolo or culpa.
But although there is no intentional felony, there could be a culpable felony.
Culpa requires the concurrence of three requisites:
(1) criminal negligence on the part of the offender , that is, the crime was the result of
negligence, reckless imprudence, lack of foresight or lack of skill;
(2) freedom of action on the part of the offender, that is, he was not acting under duress;
(3) Intelligence on the part of the offender in performing the negligent act.
Between dolo and culpa, the distinction lies on the criminal intent and criminal
negligence. If any of these requisites is absent, there can be no dolo nor culpa. When
there is no dolo or culpa, a felony cannot arise.

Question & Answer

What do you understand by voluntariness in criminal law?
The word voluntariness in criminal law does not mean acting in ones own volition.
In criminal law, voluntariness comprehends the concurrence of freedom of action,
intelligence and the fact that the act was intentional. In culpable felonies, there is no
voluntariness if either freedom, intelligence or imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight
or lack of skill is lacking. Without voluntariness, there can be no dolo or culpa, hence,
there is no felony.
In a case decided by the Supreme Court, two persons went wild boar hunting. On
their way, they met Pedro standing by the door of his house and they asked him where
they could find wild boars. Pedro pointed to a place where wild boars were supposed to
be found, and the two proceeded thereto. Upon getting to the place, they saw something
moving, they shot, unfortunately the bullet ricocheted killing Pedro. It was held that since
there was neither dolo nor culpa, there is no criminal liability.
In US v. Bindoy, accused had an altercation with X. X snatched the bolo from the
accused. To prevent X from using his bolo on him, accused tried to get it from X. Upon
pulling it back towards him, he hit someone from behind, instantly killing the latter. The
accused was found to be not liable. In criminal law, there is pure accident, and the
principle damnum absque injuria is also honored.
Even culpable felonies require voluntariness. It does not mean that if there is no
criminal intent, the offender is absolved of criminal liability, because there is culpa to
Question & Answer
May a crime be committed without criminal intent?
Yes. Criminal intent is not necessary in these cases:

(1) When the crime is the product of culpa or negligence, reckless imprudence, lack of
foresight or lack of skill;

(2) When the crime is a prohibited act under a special law or what is called malum
Criminal Intent
Criminal Intent is not deceit. Do not use deceit in translating dolo, because the
nearest translation is deliberate intent.
In criminal law, intent is categorized into two:
(1)General criminal intent; and
(2) Specific criminal intent.

General criminal intent is presumed from the mere doing of a wrong act. This does not
require proof. The burden is upon the wrong doer to prove that he acted without such
criminal intent.

Specific criminal intent is not presumed because it is an ingredient or element of a

crime, like intent to kill in the crimes of attempted or frustrated
homicide/parricide/murder. The prosecution has the burden of proving the same.
Distinction between intent and discernment
Intent is the determination to

Omission is the inaction, the failure to perform a positive duty which he is bound to do.
There must be a law requiring the doing or performing of an act.

Distinction between negligence and imprudence

(1) In negligence, there is deficiency of action;
(2) in imprudence, there is deficiency of perception.

Mens rea
The technical term mens rea is sometimes referred to in common parlance as the
gravamen of the offense. To a layman, that is what you call the bullseye of the crime.
This term is used synonymously with criminal or deliberate intent, but that is not exactly
Mens rea of the crime depends upon the elements of the crime. You can only
detect the mens rea of a crime by knowing the particular crime committed. Without
reference to a particular crime, this term is meaningless. For example, in theft, the mens
rea is the taking of the property of another with intent to gain. In falsification, the mens
rea is the effecting of the forgery with intent to pervert the truth. It is not merely writing
something that is not true; the intent to pervert the truth must follow the performance of
the act.
In criminal law, we sometimes have to consider the crime on the basis of intent.
For example, attempted or frustrated homicide is distinguished from physical injuries
only by the intent to kill. Attempted rape is distinguished from acts of lasciviousness by
the intent to have sexual intercourse. In robbery, the mens rea is the taking of the
property of another coupled with the employment of intimidation or violence upon
persons or things; remove the employment of force or intimidation and it is not robbery
Mistake of fact
When an offender acted out of a misapprehension of fact, it cannot be said that he
acted with criminal intent. Thus, in criminal law, there is a mistake of fact. When the
offender acted out of a mistake of fact, criminal intent is negated, so do not presume
that the act was done with criminal intent. This is absolutory if crime involved dolo.
Mistake of fact would be relevant only when the felony would have been
intentional or through dolo, but not when the felony is a result of culpa. When the felony
is a product of culpa, do not discuss mistake of fact. When the felonious act is the
product of dolo and the accused claimed to have acted out of mistake of fact, there
should be no culpa in determining the real facts, otherwise, he is still criminally liable,
although he acted out of a mistake of fact. Mistake of fact is only a defense in intentional
felony but never in culpable felony.

Real concept of culpa

Under Article 3, it is clear that culpa is just a modality by which a felony may be
committed. A felony may be committed or incurred through dolo or culpa. Culpa is just a
means by which a felony may result.
In Article 365, you have criminal negligence as an omission which the article
definitely or specifically penalized. The concept of criminal negligence is the inexcusable
lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform an act. If the
danger impending from that situation is clearly manifest, you have a case of reckless
imprudence. But if the danger that would result from such imprudence is not clear, not
manifest nor immediate you have only a case of simple negligence. Because of Article
365, one might think that criminal negligence is the one being punished. That is why a
question is created that criminal negligence is the crime in itself.
In People v. Faller, it was stated indirectly that that criminal negligence or culpa is
just a mode of incurring criminal liability. In this case, the accused was charged with
malicious mischief. Malicious mischief is an intentional negligence under Article 327 of
the Revised Penal Code. The provision expressly requires that there be a deliberate
damaging of property of another, which does not constitute destructive arson. You do not
have malicious mischief through simple negligence or reckless imprudence because it
requires deliberateness. Faller was charged with malicious mischief, but was convicted of
damage to property through reckless imprudence. The Supreme Court pointed out that
although the allegation in the information charged the accused with an intentional
felony, yet the words feloniously and unlawfully, which are standard languages in an
information, covers not only dolo but also culpa because culpa is just a mode of
committing a felony.

In Quezon v. Justica quasi-offense, and the correct designation should not be

homicide through reckless imprudence, but reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.
The view of Justice Reyes is sound, but the problem is Article 3, which states that culpa is
just a mode by which a felony may result.

Question & Answer

Is culpa or criminal negligence a crime?
First, point out Article 3. Under Article 3, it is beyond question that culpa or
criminal negligence is just a mode by which a felony may arise; a felony may be
committed or incurred through dolo or culpa.
However, Justice J.B.L. Reyes pointed out that criminal negligence is a quasi
offense. His reason is that if criminal negligence is not a quasi-offense, and only a
modality, then it would have been absorbed in the commission of the felony and there
would be no need for Article 365 as a separate article for criminal negligence. Therefore,
criminal negligence, according to him, is not just a modality; it is a crime by itself, but
only a quasi-offense.
However, in Samson v. CA, where a person who has been charged with falsification
as an intentional felony, was found guilty of falsification through simple negligence. This
means that means that culpa or criminal negligence is just a modality of committing a
In some decisions on a complex crime resulting from criminal negligence, the
Supreme Court pointed out that when crimes result from criminal negligence, they
should not be made the subject of a different information. For instance, the offender was
charged with simple negligence resulting in slight physical injuries, and another charge
for simple negligence resulting in damage to property. The slight physical injuries which
are the result of criminal negligence are under the jurisdiction of the inferior court. But
damage to property, if the damage is more than P2,000.00, would be under the
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court because the imposable fine ranges up to three
times the value of the damage.
In People v. Angeles, the prosecution filed an information against the accused in an
inferior court for slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence and filed also
damage to property in the Regional Trial Court. The accused pleaded guilty to the charge
of slight physical injuries. When he was arraigned before the Regional Trial Court, he
invoked double jeopardy. He was claiming that he could not be prosecuted again for the
same criminal negligence. The Supreme Court ruled that here is no double jeopardy
because the crimes are two different crimes. Slight physical injuries and damage to
property are two different crimes.
In so ruling that there is no double jeopardy, the Supreme Court did not look into
the criminal negligence. The Supreme Court looked into the physical injuries and the
damage to property as the felonies and not criminal negligence.
In several cases that followed, the Supreme Court ruled that where several
consequences result from reckless imprudence or criminal negligence, the accused
should be charged only in the Regional Trial Court although the reckless imprudence may
result in slight physical injuries. The Supreme Court argued that since there was only one
criminal negligence, it would be an error to split the same by prosecuting the accused in
one court and prosecuting him again in another for the same criminal negligence. This is
tantamount to splitting a cause of action in a civil case. For orderly procedure, the
information should only be one. This however, also creates some doubts. As you know,
when the information charges the accused for more than the crime, the information is
defective unless the crime charged is a complex one or a special complex crime.


Since in Article 3, a felony is an act or omission punishable by law, particularly the

Revised Penal Code, it follows that whoever commits a felony incurs criminal liability. In
paragraph 1 of Article 4, the law uses the word felony, that whoever commits a felony
incurs criminal liability. A felony may arise not only when it is intended, but also when it
is the product of criminal negligence. What makes paragraph 1 of Article 4 confusing is
the addition of the qualifier although the wrongful act be different from what he

Questions & Answers

1. A man thought of committing suicide and went on top of a tall building. He jumped,
landing on somebody else, who died instantly. Is he criminally liable?
Yes. A felony may result not only from dolo but also from culpa. If that fellow who
was committing suicide acted negligently, he will be liable for criminal negligence
resulting in the death of another.
2. A had been courting X for the last five years. X told A, Let us just be friends. I want a
lawyer for a husband and I have already found somebody whom I agreed to marry.
Anyway there are still a lot of ladies around; you will still have your chance with another
lady." A, trying to show that he is a sport, went down from the house of X, went inside his
car, and stepped on the accelerator to the limit, closed his eyes, started the vehicle. The
vehicle zoomed, running over all the pedestrians on the street. At the end, the car
stopped at the fence. He was taken to the hospital, and he survived. Can he be held
criminally liable for all those innocent people that he ran over, claiming that he was
committing suicide?
He will be criminally liable, not for an intentional felony, but for culpable felony.
This is so because, in paragraph 1 of Article 4, the term used is felony, and that term
covers both dolo and culpa.

3. A pregnant woman thought of killing herself by climbing up a tall building and jumped
down below. Instead of falling in the pavement, she fell on the owner of the building. An
abortion resulted. Is she liable for an unintentional abortion? If not, what possible crime
may be committed?
The relevant matter is whether the pregnant woman could commit unintentional
abortion upon herself. The answer is no because the way the law defines unintentional
abortion, it requires physical violence coming from a third party. When a pregnant
woman does an act that would bring about abortion, it is always intentional.
Unintentional abortion can only result when a third person employs physical violence
upon a pregnant woman resulting to an unintended abortion.
In one case, a pregnant woman and man quarreled. The man could no longer bear
the shouting of the woman, so he got his firearm and poked it into the mouth of the
woman. The woman became hysterical, so she ran as fast as she could, which resulted in
an abortion. The man was prosecuted for unintentional abortion. It was held that an
unintentional abortion was not committed. However, drawing a weapon in the height of a
quarrel is a crime of other light threats under Article 285. An unintentional abortion can
only be committed out of physical violence, not from mere threat.

Article 4, paragraph 1 presupposes that the act done is the proximate cause of the
resulting felony. It must be the direct, natural, and logical consequence of the felonious
Proximate cause is that cause which sets into motion other causes and which
unbroken by any efficient supervening cause produces a felony without which such
felony could not have resulted. He who is the cause of the cause is the evil of the cause.
As a general rule, the offender is criminally liable for all the consequences of his
felonious act, although not intended, if the felonious act is the proximate cause of the
felony or resulting felony. A proximate cause is not necessarily the immediate cause. This
may be a cause which is far and remote from the consequence which sets into motion
other causes which resulted in the felony.

A, B, C, D and E were driving their vehicles along Ortigas Aveue. A's car was ahead,
followed by those of B, C, D, and E. When A's car reached the intersection of EDSA and
Ortigas Avenue, the traffic light turned red so A immediately stepped on his break,
followed by B, C, D. However, E was not aware that the traffic light had turned to red, so
he bumped the car of D, then D hit the car of C, then C hit the car of B, then, finally, B hit
the car of A. In this case, the immediate cause to the damage of the car of A is the car of
B, but that is not the proximate cause. The proximate cause is the car of E because it
was the car of E which sets into motion the cars to bump into each other.

In one case, A and B, who are brothers-in-law, had a quarrel. At the height of their
quarrel, A shot B with an airgun. B was hit at the stomach, which bled profusely. When A
saw this, he put B on the bed and told him not to leave the bed because he will call a
doctor. While A was away, B rose from the bed, went into the kitchen and got a kitchen
knife and cut his throat. The doctor arrived and said that the wound in the stomach is
only superficial; only that it is a bleeder, but the doctor could no longer save him
because Bs throat was already cut. Eventually, B died. A was prosecuted for
manslaughter. The Supreme Court rationalized that what made B cut his throat, in the
absence of evidence that he wanted to commit suicide, is the belief that sooner or later,
he would die out of the wound inflicted by A. Because of that belief, he decided to
shorten the agony by cutting his throat. That belief would not be engendered in his mind
were it not because of the profuse bleeding from his wound. Now, that profusely bleeding
would not have been there, were it not for the wound inflicted by A. As a result, A was
convicted for manslaughter.
In criminal law, as long as the act of the accused contributed to the death of the
victim, even if the victim is about to die, he will still be liable for the felonious act of
putting to death that victim. In one decision, the Supreme Court held that the most
precious moment in a mans life is that of losing seconds when he is about to die. So
when you robbed him of that, you should be liable for his death. Even if a person is
already dying, if one suffocates him to end up his agony, one will be liable for murder,
when you put him to death, in a situation where he is utterly defenseless.
In US v. Valdez, the deceased is a member of the crew of a vessel. Accused is in
charge of the crewmembers engaged in the loading of cargo in the vessel. Because the
offended party was slow in his work, the accused shouted at him. The offended party
replied that they would be better if he would not insult them. The accused resented this,
and rising in rage, he moved towards the victim, with a big knife in hand threatening to
kill him. The victim believing himself to be in immediate peril, threw himself into the
water. The victim died of drowning. The accused was prosecuted for homicide. His
contention that his liability should be only for grave threats since he did not even stab
the victim, that the victim died of drowning, and this can be considered as a supervening
cause. It was held that the deceased, in throwing himself into the river, acted solely in
obedience to the instinct of self-preservation, and was in no sense legally responsible for
his own death. As to him, it was but the exercise of a choice between two evils, and any
reasonable person under the same circumstance might have done the same. The
accused must, therefore, be considered as the author of the death of the victim.
This case illustrates that proximate cause does not require that the offender needs
to actually touch the body of the offended party. It is enough that the offender generated
in the mind of the offended party the belief that made him risk himself.
If a person shouted fire, and because of that a moviegoer jumped into the fire escape
and died, the person who shouted fire when there is no fire is criminally liable for the
death of that person.
In a case where a wife had to go out to the cold to escape a brutal husband and
because of that she was exposed to the element and caught pneumonia, the husband
was made criminally liable for the death of the wife.
Even though the attending physician may have been negligent and the negligence
brought about the death of the offending party in other words, if the treatment was not
negligent, the offended party would have survived is no defense at all, because without
the wound inflicted by the offender, there would have been no occasion for a medical
Even if the wound was called slight but because of the careless treatment, it was
aggravated, the offender is liable for the death of the victim not only of the slight
physical injuries. Reason without the injury being inflicted, there would have been no
need for any medical treatment. That the medical treatment proved to be careless or
negligent, is not enough to relieve the offender of the liability for the inflicting injuries.
When a person inflicted wound upon another, and his victim upon coming home got
some leaves, pounded them and put lime there, and applying this to the wound,
developed locked jaw and eventually he died, it was held that the one who inflicted the
wound is liable for his death.

In another instance, during a quarrel, the victim was wounded. The wound was
superficial, but just the same the doctor put inside some packing. When the victim went
home, he could not stand the pain, so he pulled out the packing. That resulted into
profuse bleeding and he died because of loss of blood. The offender who caused the
wound, although the wound caused was only slight, was held answerable for the death of
the victim, even if the victim would not have died were it not for the fact that he pulled
out that packing. The principle is that without the wound, the act of the physician or the
act of the offended party would not have anything to do with the wound, and since the
wound was inflicted by the offender, whatever happens on that wound, he should be
made punishable for that.

In Urbano v. IAC, A and B had a quarrel and started hacking each other. B was
wounded at the back. Cooler heads intervened and they were separated. Somehow, their
differences were patched up. A agreed to shoulder all the expenses for the treatment of
the wound of B, and to pay him also whatever lost of income B may have failed to
receive. B, on the other hand, signed a forgiveness in favor of A and on that condition, he
withdrew the complaint that he filed against A. After so many weeks of treatment in a
clinic, the doctor pronounced the wound already healed. Thereafter, B went back to his
farm. Two months later, B came home and he was chilling. Before midnight, he died out
of tetanus poisoning. The heirs of B filed a case of homicide against A. The Supreme
Court held that A is not liable. It took into account the incubation period of tetanus toxic.
Medical evidence were presented that tetanus toxic is good only for two weeks. That if,
indeed, the victim had incurred tetanus poisoning out of the wound inflicted by A, he
would not have lasted two months. What brought about tetanus to infect the body of B
was his working in his farm using his bare hands. Because of this, the Supreme Court
said that the act of B of working in his farm where the soil is filthy, using his own hands,
is an efficient supervening cause which relieves A of any liability for the death of B. A, if
at all, is only liable for physical injuries inflicted upon B.
If you are confronted with this facts of the Urbano case, where the offended party
died because of tetanus poisoning, reason out according to that reasoning laid down by
the Supreme Court, meaning to say, the incubation period of the tetanus poisoning was
considered. Since tetanus toxic would affect the victim for no longer than two weeks,,
the fact that the victim died two months later shows that it is no longer tetanus brought
about by the act of the accused. The tetanus was gathered by his working in the farm
and that is already an efficient intervening cause.
The one who caused the proximate cause is the one liable. The one who caused
the immediate cause is also liable, but merely contributory or sometimes totally not
liable. Wrongful act done be different from what was intended
What makes the first paragraph of Article 4 confusing is the qualification
although the wrongful act done be different from what was intended. There
are three situations contemplated under paragraph 1 of Article 4:
(1) Aberratio ictus or mistake in the blow;
(2) Error in personae or mistake in identity; and
(3) Praeter intentionem or where the consequence exceeded the intention.
Aberration ictus

In aberratio ictus, a person directed the blow at an intended victim, but because
of poor aim, that blow landed on somebody else. In aberratio ictus, the intended victim
as well as the actual victim are both at the scene of the crime.
Distinguish this from error in personae, where the victim actually received the
blow, but he was mistaken for another who was not at the scene of the crime. The
distinction is important because the legal effects are not the same.
In aberratio ictus, the offender delivers the blow upon the intended victim, but
because of poor aim the blow landed on somebody else. You have a complex crime,
unless the resulting consequence is not a grave or less grave felony. You have a single
act as against the intended victim and also giving rise to another felony as against the
actual victim. To be more specific, let us take for example A and B. A and B are enemies.
As soon as A saw B at a distance, A shot at B. However, because of poor aim, it was not
B who was hit but C. You can readily see that there is only one single act the act of
firing at B. In so far as B is concerned, the crime at least is attempted homicide or
attempted murder, as the case may be, if there is any qualifying circumstance. As far as
the third party C is concerned, if C were killed, crime is homicide. If C was only wounded,
the crime is only physical injuries. You cannot have attempted or frustrated homicide or
murder as far as C is concerned, because as far as C is concern, there is no intent to kill.
As far as that other victim is concerned, only physical injuries serious or less serious or
If the resulting physical injuries were only slight, then you cannot complex; you will
have one prosecution for the attempted homicide or murder, and another prosecution for
slight physical injuries for the innocent party. But if the innocent party was seriously
injured or less seriously injured, then you have another grave or less grave felony
resulting from the same act which gave rise to attempted homicide or murder against B;
hence, a complex crime.
In other words, aberratio ictus, generally gives rise to a complex crime. This being
so, the penalty for the more serious crime is imposed in the maximum period. This is the
legal effect. The only time when a complex crime may not result in aberratio ictus is
when one of the resulting felonies is a light felony.

Question & Answer

The facts were one of aberratio ictus, but the facts stated that the offender aimed
carelessly in firing the shot. Is the felony the result of dolo or culpa? What crime was
All three instances under paragraph 1, Article 4 are the product of dolo. In
aberratio ictus, error in personae and praeter intentionem, never think of these as the
product of culpa. They are always the result of an intended felony, and, henc,e dolo. You
cannot have these situations out of criminal negligence. The crime committed is
attempted homicide or attempted murder, not homicide through reckless imprudence.

Error in personae
In error in personae, the intended victim was not at the scene of the crime. It was
the actual victim upon whom the blow was directed, but he was not really the intended
victim. There was really a mistake in identity.
This is very important because Article 49 applies only in a case of error in personae
and not in a case of abberatio ictus.
In Article 49, when the crime intended is more serious than the crime actually
committed or vice-versa, whichever crime carries the lesser penalty, that penalty will be
the one imposed. But it will be imposed in the maximum period. For instance, the
offender intended to commit homicide, but what was actually committed with parricide
because the person he killed by mistake was somebody related to him within the degree
of relationship in parricide. In such a case, the offender will be charged with parricide,
but the penalty that would be imposed will be that of homicide. This is because under
Article 49, the penalty for the lesser crime will be the one imposed, whatever crime the
offender is prosecuted under. In any event, the offender is prosecuted for the crime
committed not for the crime intended.

A thought of killing B. He positioned himself at one corner where B would usually
pass. When a figure resembling B was approaching, A hid and when that figure was near
him, he suddenly hit him with a piece of wood on the nape, killing him. But it turned out
that it was his own father. The crime committed is parricide, although what was intended
was homicide. Article 49, therefore, will apply because out of a mistake in identity, a
crime was committed different from that which was intended.
In another instance, A thought of killing B. Instead of B, C passed. A thought that
he was B, so he hit C on the neck, killing the latter. Just the same, the crime intended to
be committed is homicide and what was committed is actually homicide, Article 49 does
not apply. Here, error in personae is of no effect.

How does error in personae affect criminal liability of the offender?

Error in personae is mitigating if the crime committed is different from that which
was intended. If the crime committed is the same as that which was intended, error in
personae does not affect the criminal liability of the offender.
In mistake of identity, if the crime committed was the same as the crime intended,
but on a different victim, error in persona does not affect the criminal liability of the
offender. But if the crime committed was different from the crime intended, Article 49
will apply and the penalty for the lesser crime will be applied. In a way, mistake in
identity is a mitigating circumstance where Article 49 applies. Where the crime intended
is more serious than the crime committed, the error in persona is not a mitigating

Praeter intentionem
In People v. Gacogo, 53 Phil 524, two persons quarreled. They had fist blows. The
other started to run away and Gacogo went after him, struck him with a fist blow at the
back of the head. Because the victim was running, he lost balance, he fell on the
pavement and his head struck the cement pavement. He suffered cerebral hemorrhage.
Although Gacogo claimed that he had no intention of killing the victim, his claim is
useless. Intent to kill is only relevant when the victim did not die. This is so because the
purpose of intent to kill is to differentiate the crime of physical injuries from the crime of
attempted homicide or attempted murder or frustrated homicide or frustrated murder.
But once the victim is dead, you do not talk of intent to kill anymore. The best evidence
of intent to kill is the fact that victim was killed. Although Gacogo was convicted for
homicide for the death of the person, he was given the benefit of paragraph 3 of
Article13, that is, " that the offender did not intend to commit so grave a wrong as that
This is the consequence of praeter intentionem. In short, praeter intentionem is
mitigating, particularly covered by paragraph 3 of Article 13. In order however, that the
situation may qualify as praeter intentionem, there must be a notable disparity between
the means employed and the resulting felony. If there is no disparity between the means
employed by the offender and the resulting felony, this circumstance cannot be availed
of. It cannot be a case of praeter intentionem because the intention of a person is
determined from the means resorted to by him in committing the crime.

A stabbed his friend when they had a drinking spree. While they were drinking,
they had some argument about a basketball game and they could not agree, so he
stabbed him eleven times. His defense is that he had no intention of killing his friend. He
did not intend to commit so grave a wrong as that committed. It was held that the fact
that 11 wounds were inflicted on A's friend is hardly compatible with the idea that he did
not intend to commit so grave a wrong that committed.
In another instance, the accused was a homosexual. The victim ridiculed or
humiliated him while he was going to the restroom. He was so irritated that he just
stabbed the victim at the neck with a ladys comb with a pointed handle, killing the
victim. His defense was that he did not intend to kill him. He did not intend to commit so
grave a wrong as that of killing him. That contention was rejected, because the
instrument used was pointed. The part of the body wherein it was directed was the neck
which is a vital part of the body. In praeter intentionem, it is mitigating only if there is a
notable or notorious disparity between the means employed and the resulting felony. In
criminal law, intent of the offender is determined on the basis employed by him and the
manner in which he committed the crime. Intention of the offender is not what is in his
mind; it is disclosed in the manner in which he committed the crime.
In still another case, the accused entered the store of a Chinese couple, to commit
robbery. They hogtied the Chinaman and his wife. Because the wife was so talkative, one
of the offenders got a pan de sal and put it in her mouth. But because the woman was
trying to wriggle from the bondage, the pan de sal slipped through her throat. She died
because of suffocation. The offender were convicted for robbery with homicide because
there was a resulting death, although their intention was only to rob. They were given
the benefit of paragraph 3 of Article 13, that they did not intend to commit so grave a
wrong as that committed. There was really no intention to bring about the killing,
because it was the pan de sal they put into the mouth. Had it been a piece of rag, it
would be different. In that case, the Supreme Court gave the offenders the benefit of
praeter intentionem as a mitigating circumstance. The means employed is not capable of
producing death if only the woman chewed the pan de sal.

Whenever you are confronted with a problem where the facts suggest that an
impossible crime was committed, be careful about the question asked. If the question
asked is: Is an impossible crime committed?, then you judge that question on the basis
of the facts. If really the facts constitute an impossible crime, then you suggest than an
impossible crime is committed, then you state the reason for the inherent impossibility.
If the question asked is Is he liable for an impossible crime?, this is a catching
question. Even though the facts constitute an impossible crime, if the act done by the
offender constitutes some other crimes under the Revised Penal Code, he will not be
liable for an impossible crime. He will be prosecuted for the crime constituted so far by
the act done by him. The reason is an offender is punished for an impossible crime just
to teach him a lesson because of his criminal perversity. Although objectively, no crime is
committed, but subjectively, he is a criminal. That purpose of the law will also be served
if he is prosecuted for some other crime constituted by his acts which are also
punishable under the RPC.

A and B are neighbors. They are jealous of each others social status. A thought of
killing B so A climbed the house of B through the window and stabbed B on the heart, not
knowing that B died a few minutes ago of bangungot. Is A liable for an impossible crime?
No. A shall be liable for qualified trespass to dwelling. Although the act done by A
against B constitutes an impossible crime, it is the principle of criminal law that the
offender shall be punished for an impossible crime only when his act cannot be punished
under some other provisions in the Revised Penal Code.
In other words, this idea of an impossible crime is a one of last resort, just to teach
the offender a lesson because of his criminal perversity. If he could be taught of the
same lesson by charging him with some other crime constituted by his act, then that will
be the proper way. If you want to play safe, you state there that although an impossible
crime is constituted, yet it is a principle of criminal law that he will only be penalized for
an impossible crime if he cannot be punished under some other provision of the Revised
Penal Code.
If the question is Is an impossible crime is committed?, the answer is yes,
because on the basis of the facts stated, an impossible crime is committed. But to play
safe, add another paragraph: However, the offender will not be prosecuted for an
impossible crime but for_____ [state the crime]. Because it is a principle in criminal law
that the offender can only be prosecuted for an impossible crime if his acts do not
constitute some other crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code. An impossible
crime is a crime of last resort.

Modified concept of impossible crime:

In a way, the concept of impossible crime has been modified by the decision of the
Supreme Court in the case of Intod v. CA, et al., 215 SCRA 52. In this case, four culprits,
all armed with firearms and with intent to kill, went to the intended victims house and
after having pinpointed the latters bedroom, all four fired at and riddled said room with
bullets, thinking that the intended victim was already there as it was about 10:00 in the
evening. It so happened that the intended victim did not come home on the evening and
so was not in her bedroom at that time. Eventually the culprits were prosecuted and
convicted by the trial court for attempted murder. The Court of Appeals affirmed the
judgment but the Supreme Court modified the same and held the petitioner liable only
for the so-called impossible crime. As a result, petitioner-accused was sentenced to
imprisonment of only six months of arresto mayor for the felonious act he committed
with intent to kill: this despite the destruction done to the intended victims house.
Somehow, the decision depreciated the seriousness of the act committed, considering
the lawlessness by which the culprits carried out the intended crime, and so some
members of the bench and bar spoke out against the soundness of the ruling. Some
asked questions: Was it really the impossibility of accomplishing the killing that brought
about its non-accomplishment? Was it not purely accidental that the intended victim did
not come home that evening and, thus, unknown to the culprits, she was not in her
bedroom at the time it was shot and riddled with bullets? Suppose, instead of using
firearms, the culprits set fire on the intended victims house, believing she was there
when in fact she was not, would the criminal liability be for an impossible crime?
Until the Intod case, the prevailing attitude was that the provision of the Revised Penal
Code on impossible crime would only apply when the wrongful act, which would have
constituted a crime against persons or property, could not and did not constitute another
felony. Otherwise, if such act constituted any other felony although different from what
the offender intended, the criminal liability should be for such other felony and not for an
impossible crime. The attitude was so because Article 4 of the Code provides two
situations where criminal liability shall be incurred, to wit:

Art 4. Criminal liability Criminal liability shall be incurred:

1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act be different
from that which he intended.
2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or
property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of
the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means.

Paragraph 1 refers to a situation where the wrongful act done constituted a felony
although it may be different from what he intended. Paragraph 2 refers to a situation
where the wrongful act done did not constitute any felony, but because the act would
have given rise to a crime against persons or against property, the same is penalized to
repress criminal tendencies to curtail their frequency. Because criminal liability for
impossible crime presupposes that no felony resulted from the wrongful act done, the
penalty is fixed at arresto mayor or a fine from P200.00 to P500.00, depending on the
social danger and degree of criminality shown by the offender (Article 59), regardless
of whether the wrongful act was an impossible crime against persons or against property.
There is no logic in applying paragraph 2 of Article 4 to a situation governed by
paragraph 1 of the same Article, that is, where a felony resulted. Otherwise, a
redundancy and duplicity would be perpetrated.
In the Intod case, the wrongful acts of the culprits caused destruction to the house
of the intended victim; this felonious act negates the idea of an impossible crime. But
whether we agree or not, the Supreme Court has spoken, we have to respect its ruling.
When a person is charged in court, and the court finds that there is no law applicable,
the court will acquit the accused and the judge will give his opinion that the said act
should be punished.

Article 5 covers two situations:

(1)The court cannot convict the accused because the acts do not constitute a crime. The
proper judgment is acquittal, but the court is mandated to report to the Chief Executive
that said act be made subject of penal legislation and why.
(2) Where the court finds the penalty prescribed for the crime too harsh considering the
conditions surrounding the commission of he crime, the judge should impose the law.
The most that he could do is to recommend to the Chief Executive to grant executive


The classification of stages of a felony in Article 6 are true only to crimes under the
Revised Penal Code. This does not apply to crimes punished under special laws. But even
certain crimes which are punished under the Revised Penal Code do not admit of these
The purpose of classifying penalties is to bring about a proportionate penalty and
equitable punishment. The penalties are graduated according to their degree of severity.
The stages may not apply to all kinds of felonies. There are felonies which do not admit
of division.

Formal crimes
Formal crimes are crimes which are consummated in one instance. For example, in
oral defamation, there is no attempted oral defamation or frustrated oral defamation; it
is always in the consummated stage.

So also, in illegal exaction under Article 213 is a crime committed when a public
officer who is authorized to collect taxes, licenses or impose for the government, shall
demand an amount bigger than or different from what the law authorizes him to collect.
Under sub-paragraph a of Article 213 on Illegal exaction, the law uses the word
demanding. Mere demanding of an amount different from what the law authorizes him
to collect will already consummate a crime, whether the taxpayer pays the amount being
demanded or not. Payment of the amount being demanded is not essential to the
consummation of the crime.

The difference between the attempted stage and the frustrated stage lies on
whether the offender has performed all the acts of execution for the accomplishment of
a felony. Literally, under the the article, if the offender has performed all the acts of
execution which should produce the felony as a consequence but the felony was not
realized, then the crime is already in the frustrated stage. If the offender has not yet
performed all the acts of execution there is yet something to be performed but he
was not able to perform all the acts of execution due to some cause or accident other
than his own spontaneous desistance, then you have an attempted felony.
You will notice that the felony begins when the offender performs an overt act. Not
any act will mark the beginning of a felony, and therefore, if the act so far being done
does not begin a felony, criminal liability correspondingly does not begin. In criminal law,
there is such a thing as preparatory act. These acts do not give rise to criminal liability.

Question & Answer

A and B are husband and wife. A met C who was willing to marry him, but he is
already married. A thought of eliminating B and to poison her. So, he went to the
drugstore and bought arsenic poison. On the way out, he met D. D asked him who was
sick in the family, A confided to D that he bought the poison to poison his wife in order to
marry C. After that, they parted ways. D went directly to the police and reported that A is
going to kill his wife. So the policemen went to As house and found A still unwrapping
the arsenic poison. The policemen asked A if he was planning to poison B and A said yes.
Police arrested him and charged him with attempted parricide. Is the charge correct?
No. Overt act begins when the husband mixed the poison with the food his wife is
going to take.
Before this, there is no attempted stage yet.

An overt act is that act which if allowed to continue in its natural course would definitely
result into a felony.
In the attempted stage, the definition uses the word directly. This is significant.
In the attempted stage, the acts so far performed may already be a crime or it may be
just an ingredient of another crime. The word "directly" emphasizes the requirement
that the attempted felony is that which is directly linked to the overt act performed by
the offender, not the felony he has in his mind.
In criminal law, you are not allowed to speculate, not to imagine what crime is
intended, but apply the provisions of the law of the facts given.
When a person starts entering the dwelling of another, that act is already
trespassing. But the act of entering is an ingredient of robbery with force upon things.
You could only hold him liable for attempted robbery when he has already completed all
acts performed by him directly leading to robbery. The act of entering alone is not yet
indicative of robbery although that may be what he may have planned to commit. In law,
the attempted stage is only that overt act which is directly linked to the felony intended
to be committed.
In US v. Namaja, the accused was arrested while he was detaching some of the
wood panels of a store. He was already able to detach two wood panels. To a layman, the
only conclusion that will come to your mind is that this fellow started to enter the store
to steal something. He would not be there just to sleep there. But in criminal law, since
the act of removing the panel indicates only at most the intention to enter. He can only
be prosecuted for trespass. The removal of the panelling is just an attempt to trespass,
not an attempt to rob. Although, Namaja was prosecuted for attempted robbery, the
Supreme Court held it is only attempted trespass because that is the crime that can be
directly linked to his act of removing the wood panel.
There are some acts which are ingredients of a certain crime, but which are, by
themselves, already criminal offenses.
In abduction, your desire may lead to acts of lasciviousness. In so far the woman
being carried is concerned, she may already be the victim of lascivious acts. The crime is
not attempted abduction but acts of lasciviousness. You only hold him liable for an
attempt, so far as could be reasonably linked to the overt act done by him. Do not go far
and imagine what you should do.

Question & Answer

A awakened one morning with a man sleeping in his sofa. Beside the man was a
bag containing picklocks and similar tools. He found out that the man entered his sala by
cutting the screen on his window. If you were to prosecute this fellow, for what crime are
you going to prosecute him?
The act done by him of entering through an opening not intended for the purpose
is only qualified trespass. Qualified trespass because he did so by cutting through the
screen. There was force applied in order to enter. Other than that, under Article 304 of
the Revised Penal Code, illegal possession of picklocks and similar tools is a crime. Thus,
he can be prosecuted for two crimes: (1) qualified trespass to dwelling, and (2) illegal
possession of picklocks and similar tools; not complex because one is not necessary
means to commit the other.
Desistance on the part of the offender negates criminal liability in the attempted
stage. Desistance is true only in the attempted stage of the felony. If under the definition
of the felony, the act done is already in the frustrated stage, no amount of desistance
will negate criminal liability.
The spontaneous desistance of the offender negates only the attempted stage but
not necessarily all criminal liability. Even though there was desistance on the part of the
offender, if the desistance was made when acts done by him already resulted to a felony,
that offender will still be criminally liable for the felony brought about his act. What is
negated is only the attempted stage, but there may be other felony constituting his act.

A fired at B and B was hit on the shoulder. But B's wound was not mortal. What A
then did was to approach B, and told B, Now you are dead, I will kill you. But A took
pity and kept the revolver and left. The crime committed is attempted homicide and not
physical injuries, because there was an intention to kill. The desistance was with the
second shot and would not affect the first shot because the first shot had already hit B.
The second attempt has nothing to do with the first.
In another instance, A has a very seductive neighbor in the person of B. A had
always been looking at B and had wanted to possess her but their status were not the
same. One evening, after A saw B at her house and thought that B was already asleep,
he entered the house of B through the window to abuse her. He, however, found out that
B was nude, so he lost interest and left. Can a be accused of attempted rape? No,
because there was desistance, which prevented the crime from being consummated. The
attempted stage was erased because the offender desisted after having commenced the
commission of the felony.
The attempted felony is erased by desistance because the offender spontaneously
desisted from pursuing the acts of execution. It does not mean, however, that there is no
more felony committed. He may be liable for a consummated felony constituted by his
act of trespassing. When A entered the house through the window, which is not intended
for entrance, it is always presumed
In rape, it requires the connection of the offender and the offended party. No penetration
at all, there is only an attempted stage. Slightest penetration or slightest connection,
consummated. You will notice this from the nature of the crime requiring two
This is also true in the crime of arson. It does not admit of the frustrated stage. In
arson, the moment any particle of the premises intended to be burned is blackened, that
is already an indication that the premises have begun to burn. It does not require that
the entire premises be burned to consummate arson. Because of that, the frustrated
stage of arson has been eased out. The reasoning is that one cannot say that the
offender, in the crime of arson, has already performed all the acts of execution which
could produce the destruction of the premises through the use of fire, unless a part of
the premises has begun to burn. If it has not begun to burn, that means that the offender
has not yet performed all the acts of execution. On the other hand, the moment it begins
to burn, the crime is consummated. Actually, the frustrated stage is already standing on
the consummated stage except that the outcome did not result. As far as the stage is
concerned, the frustrated stage overlaps the consummated stage.
Because of this reasoning by the Court of Appeals in People v. Garcia, the Supreme
Court followed the analysis that one cannot say that the offender in the crime of arson
has already performed all the acts of execution which would produce the arson as a
consequence, unless and until a part of the premises had begun to burn.
In US v. Valdez, the offender had tried to burn the premises by gathering jute sacks
laying these inside the room. He lighted these, and as soon as the jute sacks began to
burn, he ran away. The occupants of the room put out the fire. The court held that what
was committed was frustrated arson.
This case was much the way before the decision in the case of People v. Garcia was
handed down and the Court of Appeals ruled that there is no frustrated arson. But even
then, the analysis in the case of US v. Valdez is correct. This is because, in determining
whether the felony is attempted, frustrated or consummated, the court does not only
consider the definition under Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code, or the stages of
execution of the felony. When the offender has already passed the subjective stage of
the felony, it is beyond the attempted stage. It is already on the consummated or
frustrated stage depending on whether a felony resulted. If the felony did not result,
The attempted stage is said to be within the subjective phase of execution of a
felony. On the subjective phase, it is that point in time when the offender begins the
commission of an overt act until that point where he loses control of the commission of
the crime already. If he has reached that point where he can no longer control the
ensuing consequence, the crime has already passed the subjective phase and, therefore,
it is no longer attempted. The moment the execution of the crime has already gone to
that point where the felony should follow as a consequence, it is either already frustrated
or consummated. If the felony does not follow as a consequence, it is already frustrated.
If the felony follows as a consequence, it is consummated.
The trouble is that, in the jurisprudence recognizing the objective phase and the
subjective phase, the Supreme Court considered not only the acts of the offender, but
also his belief. That although the offender may not have done the act to bring about the
felony as a consequence, if he could have continued committing those acts but he
himself did not proceed because he believed that he had done enough to consummate
the crime, Supreme Court said the subjective phase has passed. This was applied in the
case of US v. Valdez, where the offender, having already put kerosene on the jute sacks,
lighted the same, he had no reason not to believe that the fire would spread, so he ran
away. That act demonstrated that in his mind, he believed that he has performed all the
acts of execution and that it is only a matter of time that the premises will burn. The fact
that the occupant of the other room came out and put out the fire is a cause
independent of the will of the perpetrator.
The ruling in the case of US v. Valdez is still correct. But in the case of People v.
Garcia, the situation is different. Here, the offender who put the torch over the house of
the offended party, the house being a nipa hut, the torch which was lighted could easily
burn the roof of the nipa hut. But the torch burned out.
In that case, you cannot say that the offender believed that he had performed all
the acts of execution.
There was not even a single burn of any instrument or agency of the crime.
The analysis made by the Court of Appeals is still correct: that they could not
demonstrate a situation where the offender has performed all the acts of execution to
bring about the crime of arson and the situation where he has not yet performed all the
acts of execution. The weight of the authority is that the crime of arson cannot be
committed in the frustrated stage. The reason is because we can hardly determine
whether the offender has performed all the acts of execution that would result in arson,
as a consequence, unless a part of the premises has started to burn. On the other hand,
the moment a particle or a molecule of the premises has blackened, in law, arson is
consummated. This is because consummated arson does not require that the whole of
the premises be burned. It is enough that any part of the premises, no matter how small,
has begun to burn.

There are also certain crimes that do not admit of the attempted or frustrated
stage, like physical injuries.One of the known commentators in criminal law has
advanced the view that the crime of physical injuries can be committed in the attempted
as well as the frustrated stage. He explained that by going through the definition of an
attempted and a frustrated felony under Article 6, if a person who was about to give a
fist blow to another raises his arms, but before he could throw the blow, somebody holds
that arm, there would be attempted physical injuries. The reason for this is because the
offender was not able to perform all the acts of execution to bring about physical injuries.
On the other hand, he also stated that the crime of physical injuries may be
committed in the frustrated stage when the offender was able to throw the blow but
somehow, the offended party was able to sidestep away from the blow. He reasoned out
that the crime would be frustrated because the offender was able to perform all the acts
of execution which would bring about the felony were it not for a cause independent of
the will of the perpetrator.
The explanation is academic. You will notice that under the Revised Penal Code,
the crime of physical injuries is penalized on the basis of the gravity of the injuries.
Actually, there is no simple crime of physical injuries. You have to categorize because
there are specific articles that apply whether the physical injuries are serious, less
serious or slight. If you say physical injuries, you do not know which article to apply. This
being so, you could not punish the attempted or frustrated stage because you do not
know what crime of physical injuries was committed.

Questions & Answers

1. Is there an attempted slight physical injuries?
If there is no result, you do not know. Criminal law cannot stand on any
speculation or ambiguity; otherwise, the presumption of innocence would be sacrificed.
Therefore, the commentators opinion cannot stand because you cannot tell what
particular physical injuries was attempted or frustrated unless the consequence is there.
You cannot classify the physical injuries.

2. A threw muriatic acid on the face of B. The injuries would have resulted in deformity
were it not for timely plastic surgery. After the surgery, B became more handsome. What
crime is committed? Is it attempted, frustrated or consummated?
The crime committed here is serious physical injuries because of the deformity.
When there is deformity, you disregard the healing duration of the wound or the medical
treatment required by the wound.
In order that in law, a deformity can be said to exist, three factors must
(1) The injury should bring about the ugliness;
(2) The ugliness must be visible;
(3) The ugliness would not disappear through natural healing process.
Along this concept of deformity in law, the plastic surgery applied to B is beside the
point. In law, what is considered is not the artificial or the scientific treatment but the
natural healing of the injury. So the fact that there was plastic surgery applied to B does
not relieve the offender from the liability for the physical injuries inflicted. The crime
committed is serious physical injuries.It is consummated. In determining whether a felony
is attempted, frustrated or consummated, you have to consider the manner of committing
the felony, the element of the felony and the nature of the felony itself. There is no real
hard and fast rule.

Elements of the crime

In the crime of estafa, the element of damage is essential before the crime could
be consummated. If there is no damage, even if the offender succeeded in carting away
the personal property involved, estafa cannot be considered as consummated. For the
crime of estafa to be consummated, there must be misappropriation already done, so
that there is damage already suffered by the offended party. If there is no damage yet,
the estafa can only be frustrated or attempted.
On the other hand, if it were a crime of theft, damage or intent to cause damage is
not an element of theft. What is necessary only is intent to gain, not even gain is
important. The mere intent to derive some profit is enough but the thinking must be
complete before a crime of theft shall be consummated. That is why we made that
distinction between theft and estafa.
If the personal property was received by the offender, this is where you have to
decide whether what was transferred to the offender is juridical possession or physical
possession only. If the offender did not receive the personal property, but took the same
from the possession of the owner without the latters consent, then there is no problem.
That cannot be estafa; this is only theft or none at all.
In estafa, the offender receives the property; he does not take it. But in receiving
the property, the recipient may be committing theft, not estafa, if what was transferred
to him was only the physical or material possession of the object. It can only be estafa if
what was transferred to him is not only material or physical possession but juridical
possession as well.
When you are discussing estafa, do not talk about intent to gain. In the same manner
that when you are discussing the crime of theft, do not talk of damage.
The crime of theft is the one commonly given under Article 6. This is so because
the concept of theft under the Revised Penal Code differs from the concept of larceny
under American common law. Under American common law, the crime of larceny which
is equivalent to our crime of theft here requires that the offender must be able to carry
away or transport the thing being stolen. Without that carrying away, the larceny cannot
be consummated.
In our concept of theft, the offender need not move an inch from where he was. It
is not a matter of carrying away. It is a matter of whether he has already acquired
complete control of the personal property involved. That complete control simply means
that the offender has already supplanted his will from the will of the possessor or owner
of the personal property involved, such that he could exercise his own control on the

I placed a wallet on a table inside a room. A stranger comes inside the room, gets
the wallet and puts it in his pocket. I suddenly started searching him and I found the
wallet inside his pocket. The crime of theft is already consummated because he already
acquired complete control of my wallet. This is so true when he removed the wallet from
the confines of the table. He can exercise his will over the wallet already, he can drop
this on the floor, etc.
But as long as the wallet remains on the table, the theft is not yet consummated;
there can only be attempted or frustrated theft. If he has started lifting the wallet, it is
frustrated. If he is in the act of trying to take the wallet or place it under, attempted.
Taking in the concept of theft, simply means exercising control over the thing.
If instead of the wallet, the man who entered the room pretended to carry the table
out of the room, and the wallet is there. While taking the table out of the room, I
apprehended him. It turned out that he is not authorized at all and is interested only in
the wallet, not the table. The crime is not yet consummated. It is only frustrated because
as far as the table is concern, it is the confines of this room that is the container. As long
as he has not taken this table out of the four walls of this room, the taking is not
A man entered a room and found a chest on the table. He opened it found some
valuables inside. He took the valuables, put them in his pocket and was arrested. In this
case, theft is consummated.
But if he does not take the valuables but lifts the entire chest, and before he could
leave the room, he was apprehended, there is frustrated theft.
If the thing is stolen from a compound or from a room, as long as the object has
not been brought out of that room, or from the perimeter of the compound, the crime is
only frustrated. This is the confusion .

Composite crimes
Composite crimes are crimes which, in substance, consist of more than one crime
but in the eyes of the law, there is only one crime. For example, the crimes of robbery
with homicide, robbery with rape, robbery with physical injuries.
In case the crime committed is a composite crime, the conspirator will be liable for all
the acts committed during the commission of the crime agreed upon. This is because, in
the eyes of the law, all those acts done in pursuance of the crime agreed upon are acts
which constitute a single crime.

A, B, and C decided to commit robbery in the house of D. Pursuant to their
agreement, A would ransack the second floor, B was to wait outside, and C would stay on
the first floor. Unknown to B and C, A raped the girl upstairs. All of them will be liable for
robbery with rape. The crime committed is robbery with rape, which is not a complex
crime, but an indivisible felony under the Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code. Even if B
and C did not know that rape was being committed and they agreed only and conspired
to rob, yet rape was part of robbery. Rape can not be separated from robbery.
A, B and C agreed to rob the house of D. It was agreed that A would go the second
floor, B would stay in the first floor, and C stands guard outside. All went to their
designated areas in pursuit of the plan. While A was ransacking the second floor, the
owner was awakened. A killed him. A, B and C will be liable for robbery with homicide.
This is because, it is well settled that any killing taking place while robbery is being
committed shall be treated as a single indivisible offense.
As a general rule, when there is conspiracy, the rule is that the act of one
is the act of all. This principle applies only to the crime agreed upon.
The exception is if any of the co-conspirator would commit a crime not agreed
upon. This happens when the crime agreed upon and the crime committed by one of the
co-conspirators are distinct crimes.
Exception to the exception: In acts constituting a single indivisible offense, even
though the co- conspirator performed different acts bringing about the composite crime,
all will be liable for such crime. They can only evade responsibility for any other crime
outside of that agreed upon if it is proved that the particular conspirator had tried to
prevent the commission of such other act. The rule would be different if the crime
committed was not a composite crime.

A, B and C agreed to kill D. When they saw the opportunity, A, B and C killed D and
after that, A and B ran into different directions. C inspected the pocket of the victim and
found that the victim was wearing a ring a diamond ring and he took it. The crimes
committed are homicide and theft. As far as the homicide is concerned, A, B and C are
liable because that was agreed upon and theft was not an integral part of homicide. This
is a distinct crime so the rule will not apply because it was not the crime agreed upon.
Insofar as the crime of theft is concerned, C will be the only one liable. So C will be liable
for homicide and theft.

This question was asked in the bar examination: How do you classify felonies or
how are felonies classified?
What the examiner had in mind was Articles 3, 6 and 9. Do not write the
classification of felonies under Book 2 of the Revised Penal Code. That was not what the
examiner had in mind because the question does not require the candidate to classify
but also to define. Therefore, the examiner was after the classifications under Articles 3,
6 and 9.

Felonies are classified as follows:

(1) According to the manner of their commission
Under Article 3, they are classified as, intentional felonies or those committed with
deliberate intent; and culpable felonies or those resulting from negligence, reckless
imprudence, lack of foresight or lack of skill.

(2) According to the stages of their execution

Under Article 6., felonies are classified as attempted felony when the offender
commences the commission of a felony directly by overt acts, and does not perform all
the acts of execution which should produce the felony by reason of some cause or
accident other than his own spontaneous desistance; frustrated felony when the offender
commences the commission of a felony as a consequence but which would produce the
felony as a consequence but which nevertheless do not produce the felony by reason of
causes independent of the perpetrator; and, consummated felony when all the elements
necessary for its execution are present.

(3) According to their gravity

Under Article 9, felonies are classified as grave felonies or those to which attaches
the capital punishment or penalties which in any of their periods are afflictive; less grave
felonies or those to which the law punishes with penalties which in their maximum period
was correccional; and light felonies or those infractions of law for the commission of
which the penalty is arresto menor.
Why is it necessary to determine whether the crime is grave, less grave or light?
To determine whether these felonies can be complexed or not, and to determine the
prescription of the crime and the prescription of the penalty. In other words, these are
felonies classified according to their gravity, stages and the penalty attached to them.
Take note that when the Revised Penal Code speaks of grave and less grave felonies, the
definition makes a reference specifically to Article 25 of the Revised Penal Code. Do not
omit the phrase In accordance with Article 25 because there is also a classification of
penalties under Article 26 that was not applied.
If the penalty is fine and exactly P200.00, it is only considered a light felony under
Article 9.
If the fine is imposed as an alternative penalty or as a single penalty, the fine of
P200.00 is considered a correctional penalty under Article 26.
If the penalty is exactly P200.00, apply Article 26. It is considered as correctional
penalty and it prescribes in 10 years. If the offender is apprehended at any time within
ten years, he can be made to suffer the fine.
This classification of felony according to gravity is important with respect to the
question of prescription of crimes.
In the case of light felonies, crimes prescribe in two months. After two months, the
state loses the right to prosecute unless the running period is suspended. If the offender
escapes while in detention after he has been loose, if there was already judgment that
was passed, it can be promulgated even if absent under the New Rules on Criminal
Procedure. If the crime is correctional, it prescribes in ten years, except arresto mayor,
which prescribes in five years.


Article 10 is the consequence of the legal requirement that you have to distinguish
those punished under special laws and those under the Revised Penal Code. With regard
to Article 10, observe the distinction.
In Article 10, there is a reservation provision of the Revised Penal Code may be
applied suppletorily to special laws. You will only apply the provisions of the Revised
Penal Code as a supplement to the special law, or simply correlate the violated special
law, if needed to avoid an injustice. If no justice would result, do not give suppletorily
application of the Revised Penal Code to that of special law.
For example, a special law punishes a certain act as a crime. The special law is
silent as to the civil liability of one who violates the same. Here is a person who violated
the special law and he was prosecuted. His violation caused damage or injury to a
private party. May the court pronounce that he is civilly liable to the offended party,
considering that the special law is silent on this point? Yes, because Article 100 of the
Revised Penal Code may be given suppletory application to prevent an injustice from
being done to the offended party. Article 100 states that every person criminally liable
for a felony is also civilly liable. That article shall be applied suppletory to avoid an
injustice that would be caused to the private offended party, if he would not be
indemnified for the damages or injuries sustained by him.

In People v. Rodriguez, it was held that the use of arms is an element of rebellion,
so a rebel cannot be further prosecuted for possession of firearms. A violation of a
special law can never absorb a crime punishable under the Revised Penal Code, because
violations of the Revised Penal Code are more serious than a violation of a special law.
But a crime in the Revised Penal Code can absorb a crime punishable by a special law if
it is a necessary ingredient of the crime in the Revised Penal Code.
In the crime of sedition, the use of firearms is not an ingredient of the crime.
Hence, two prosecutions can be had: (1) sedition; and (2) illegal possession of firearms.
But do not think that when a crime is punished outside of the Revised Penal Code, it is
already a special law. For example, the crime of cattle-rustling is not a mala prohibitum
but a modification of the crime theft of large cattle. So Presidential Decree No. 533,
punishing cattle-rustling, is not a special law. It can absorb the crime of murder. If in the
course of cattle rustling, murder was committed, the offender cannot be prosecuted for
murder. Murder would be a qualifying circumstance in the crime of qualified cattle
rustling. Thias was the ruling in People v. Martinada.

The amendments of Presidential Decree No. 6425 (The Dangerous Drugs Act of
1972) by Republic Act No. 7659, which adopted the scale of penalties in the Revised
Penal Code, means that mitigating and aggravating circumstances can now be
considered in imposing penalties. Presidential Decree No. 6425 does not expressly
prohibit the suppletory application of the Revised Penal Code. The stages of the
commission of felonies will also apply since suppletory application is now allowed.

Circumstances affecting criminal liability

There are five circumstances affecting criminal liability:
(1) Justifying circumstances;
(2) Exempting circumstances;
(3) Mitigating circumstances;
(4) Aggravating circumstances; and
(5) Alternative circumstances.

There are two others which are found elsewhere in the provisions of the Revised Penal
(1)Absolutory cause; and
(2) Extenuating circumstances.

In justifying and exempting circumstances, there is no criminal liability. When

an accused invokes them, he in effect admits the commission of a crime but tries to
avoid the liability thereof. The burden is upon him to establish beyond reasonable doubt
the required conditions to justify or exempt his acts from criminal liability. What is shifted
is only the burden of evidence, not the burden of proof.
Justifying circumstances contemplate intentional acts and, hence, are incompatible
with dolo.
Exempting circumstances may be invoked in culpable felonies.

Absolutory cause
The effect of this is to absolve the offender from criminal liability, although not
from civil liability. It has the same effect as an exempting circumstance, but you do not
call it as such in order not to confuse it with the circumstances under Article 12.

Article 20 provides that the penalties prescribed for accessories shall not be
imposed upon those who are such with respect to their spouses, ascendants,
descendants, legitimate, natural and adopted brothers and sisters, or relatives by affinity
within the same degrees with the exception of accessories who profited themselves or
assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime.
Then, Article 89 provides how criminal liability is extinguished:
Death of the convict as to the personal penalties, and as to pecuniary penalties, liability
therefor is extinguished if death occurs before final judgment;